Pub landlord says curfew is ‘another blow for the industry’ - but welcomes action on rule-breakers

Cheryl Hickman and her fellow co-owner and partner Wayne outside the Bull Inn at Barton Mills. Pict

Cheryl Hickman and her fellow co-owner and partner Wayne outside the Bull Inn at Barton Mills. Picture: CHERYL HICKMAN - Credit: Archant

A landlord has dubbed the new 10pm curfew for pubs “another blow” for an industry already hit hard by Covid-19 - but says she welcomes tough action against venues breaking the rules.

Prime minister Boris Johnson making a statement to MPs in the House of Commons on the latest situati

Prime minister Boris Johnson making a statement to MPs in the House of Commons on the latest situation with the coronavirus pandemic. Picture: PA WIRE - Credit: PA

Prime minister Boris Johnson said all pubs, bars and restaurants can only operate a table service from this Thursday, except for takeaways.

All must close at 10pm, along with hospitality venues, while those not sat at a table to eat or drink must wear face coverings.

Mr Johnson went on to say: “In retail, leisure, tourism and other sectors, our Covid-secure guidelines will become legal obligations. Businesses will be fined and could be closed if they breach the rules.”

MORE: Pubs, bars and restaurants to close at 10pm amid Covid fears

However Cheryl Hickman, owner of The Bull at Barton Mills, said: “I’ll believe it when I see it.

“If they’re actually genuinely going to go and shut the sites that are blatantly just ignoring the rules and the laws, then that will make the ones that are doing the right thing safer and keep them open.

“But if they leave the badly operating sites doing what they’re doing till 10pm, then we’re all going to pay the price aren’t we?

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“Right now, we’re seeing a lot of people coming back and saying this is the only place they want to come because it is safe.

“The new curfew coming in is just another blow for the industry.

“I’m completely in agreement that it needs to be nipped in the bud before it gets out of control completely and utterly.

“But I just wonder what effect the curfew is going to have.

“You’ve got the businesses that care and do everything right. But you’ve got business that don’t care and this rule isn’t going to change them.

“I feel like there’s just not the police resources to shut bad premises down.

“I think it’s a bit too late. The ones that were badly behaving should have had two warnings and then you’re closed, because it’s their choice to operate in that way.”

Other pub landlords across the county have also vowed to “battle on” despite the curfew.

Dan Lightfoot, landlord of The Greyhound in Henley Road Ipswich, said: “It’s just another knock.

“We were asked to create a system where we could work safely – and we did.

“Now we’ll have to find another way with the table service. We’ll just have to adapt and find a way through.

Nick Attfield, head of properties at Adnams, said: “Over the past three months the vast majority of hospitality have done the right thing and followed the guidelines.

“It’s frustrating that we’ve been penalised, but we battle on. Pubs have dealt with things before.

“We’ve dealt with smoking bans, we’ve dealt with drunk driving, we’ve dealt with becoming food operators, boutique hotels etc.

“Pubs never turned their lights off during the war. The only time we turned the light off on the great British pub was on March 23 when we were ordered to. And we turned our lights straight back on, on July 4.

“We’re a resilient, resourceful lot and only want to do the right thing by our customers and the many people we employ.”

Mike Garling, owner of the LP nightclub and bar in Bury St Edmunds, also said he was going to carry on trading. He said: “I’m still feeling quite positive – you have to really – but it’s hard when the goalposts keep being changed.

“Obviously I’m disappointed by the curfew.

“We take more than 50% of our revenue after those hours – particularly over the weekend – so it’s going to hit our business quite hard.

“We’re going to try and counteract that with some promotional offers to try and get people to come out earlier.”

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